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The Guide of the Perplexed, Vol. 1 Paperback – December 15, 1974
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From the Back Cover
This monument of rabbinical exegesis, written at the end of twelfth century, has exerted an immense and continuing influence upon Jewish thought. It has also been a formative element in the thinking of leading Christian writers and philosophers down through the seventeenth century. The Guide is not a philosophical treatise. Rather, its aim is to liberate men from the tormenting perplexities arising from their understanding of the Bible according only to its literal meaning. This celebrated translation is now available in a two-volume Phoenix paperback edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Igor Karpov, Toronto,Canada
igorkarpov at rogers dot com
He points out, what many readers of Maimonides fail to grasp, that Maimonides did not express his true views openly. Like most ancient philosophers, including Plato who called this the “noble lie,” he wrote for two audiences. He felt that the general public would see their own false notions in his writing, while the more intellectual readers would be able to mine the surface of his writings and discover his true views. He didn’t do this to hide these secrets from his fellow Jews, nor out of fear of reprisals. But exposing the general population to these truths could only lead to perplexity in the best of circumstances or to falling away from observance in the worst of circumstances, neither of which Maimonides had any interest in promoting.
Thus, for example, while Maimonides wrote “thirteen principles of Judaism” for the general population, he expected that his more astute readers would realize that only the first five, which deal with God, should be accepted as Maimonides’ true opinions. For instance, while he wrote in the remaining eight that “the dead will live again,” as item thirteen, he did believe in resurrection as most people thought, but that human intelligence will survive the body’s death, as he writes in his work called Chelek.
I will add that the serious student of this work might also find Strauss's work "Persecution and the Art of Writing," and his essays on exoteric or esoteric writing, useful. The esoteric writing thesis is developed by Strauss from the study of Maimonides, and it is likely that no work ever written lends itself more readily to such reading.
Maimonides "Guide" is a profound work without peer among the great classic religious works that establish the basic beliefs of the Western religions. It has had profound effects on my view of reality. Give it a try, you might benefit more than you would reasonably expect.
Timothy E. Kennelly